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Philadelphia-area Librarians Explore the Future of Libraries During 2-Day Workshop

April 3, 2018

On March 5 through 6, 2018, Drexel Liaison Librarians Phebe Dickson, Janice Masud-Paul and Larry Milliken attended the Association of Research Libraries’ Liaison Institute, a program that focuses on examining the evolving role of subject and functional librarians within research libraries.

During the 2-day interactive workshop, which was arranged and hosted by Temple University, library professionals from Drexel, Temple and the University of Pennsylvania came together to discuss the impact of rapid societal and technological change on libraries and the individuals they support and to identify new ways to improve teaching, learning and research.

Attendees participated in interactive small-group exercises that facilitated information-sharing and problem-solving. For example, participants matched current and potential library resources and services to the needs of various campus constituents to create value proposition statements. Attendees were also challenged to consider the future role of librarians, and they discussed issues like the growing focus on the process of scholarship vs. products of scholarship.

The Liaison Institute provided attendees with an opportunity to learn from each other’s experiences. For example, Drexel librarians talked about the partnerships they have developed with other groups on campus, such as the Steinbright Career Development Center and the Office of Research. They also described the Libraries’ matrixed organizational structure.

The workshop also included a panel discussion, during which Temple University faculty and students talked about their workflows and the changes and challenges they’re facing in their respective disciplines. They also shared a “wish list” of library support services and tools, giving librarians important insight into the wants and needs of their users. For one, faculty and graduate students suggested that librarians help connect them with researchers across institutions who are researching similar topics. 

At the end of the workshop, the librarians agreed on the importance of communicating across campuses and planned to share with each other their approaches to library staff training, customer-driven services, service assessment and communication with constituents. Overall, the Institute served as an invaluable opportunity for research library professionals from three academic libraries to discuss both their current programs and the imminent changes the library profession will face in the coming years. With its proactive exploration of transforming ways it advances the University mission and its refreshed strategic plan, the Drexel University Libraries is well-positioned to meet future challenges.

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